Negative people are everywhere: at work, the grocery store, your office, even in your own home.

And while it’s obvious that negative people are not enjoyable to be around, how often do we make it a priority to eliminate those people from our lives?

Unfortunately, those exact negative influences — those negative people — are holding you back from achieving higher levels of success in your life and in your career.

Research has shown that holding on to negative people in your life can impact your job performance, meetings at work, your stress level, an entire company culture, a balanced home life, and much more.

Even just a small amount of negativity can lead to a weaker immune system and a decrease in your intelligence.

And yet, despite all the evidence, removing those negative people from your life is not easy to do.

The last thing you want to do is ruin relationships with people because they have a bad attitude (especially if they are blood-related).

That’s where the Rule of 2 comes in.

The Rule of 2

We will never completely be able to get rid of negative people. There is no sunshine utopia where negative people are banned and everyone is giving each other encouraging high fives.

Negative people will always be around.

So rather than sit back and let those people influence our health and happiness, let’s focus on the one thing that we can actually control.

That one thing is how much of our time we give to those people.

And that’s The Rule of 2.

The Rule of 2 is a framework for how much time you allow certain people to be in your life. Rather than exiling them completely, simply decide how much time you’ll spend with them.

They can fall into one of 4 categories:

  1. “2 Week People”
  2. “2 Day People”
  3. “2 Hour People”
  4. “2 Minute People”

If your mother-in-law is incredibly negative and always complaining about how you are raising your kids, maybe don’t let her crash in your spare bedroom for 2 weeks. Maybe only let her stay for the weekend instead.

If you have a coworker who constantly drains your energy, instead of spending the next two hours with them in a meeting, is there a way you could compress that time to 2 minutes (or possibly an email)?

Ultimately, the question to ask yourself is:

If I were to be around this person 100% of the time, how much of that time would I be able to tolerate them?

Look, there are some great people who I can only be around for 2 hours. Any more than that is too much for me. It brings down my emotional state and drains my energy.

Don’t Ruin Relationships

Relationships are the foundation for our happiness and fulfilment. And if you want to be successful at anything in life, building a world class network is a top priority.

To do that, it’s probably best that you are not burning bridges with people unnecessarily. Who knows where that negative person will end up — maybe they will be your boss one day or maybe they will turn a corner and lose their negative temperament.

I wish that I knew about this rule sooner in my life. I’ve had plenty of relationships that I’ve ruined while attempting to bring more positive minded people into my life.

The best way to prevent this from happening to you is to manage what you commit to.

If you know someone is a 2-minute person, don’t commit to spending 2 hours with them, or God forbid, 2 weeks with them.

Give more of your time to those 2-week people. (Hint hint: the busier you are, the less time you’ll actually have for the Negative Nancies in your life.)

It’s like a popular health trick where you eat all of your healthy food first, and then if you are still hungry, you can eat the fries. More often than not, you won’t even eat the fries because you are already full.

Take It One Step Further

For more tips and tricks similar to the Rule of 2, download a copy of The Success Toolkit. You’ll get 5 free tools that you can implement right away to boost your productivity and help you live a more successful life.